Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

product design

02 Sep

By

Tectonic Shifts #01: The Internet of Things (IoT)

September 2, 2014 | By |

 

Tectonic Shifts is a series of articles on the mega trends that will shape our digital future for years (if not decades) to come.

tl;dr (Executive Summary)

What happens when you connect everything to the internet? The umbrella term Internet of Things (IoT) describes a wide range of technologies and applications ranging from sensor-packed, connected homes (Smart Home) to Wearables (connected fitness bands, smart watches) to networked factories or logistics centers (M2M, or machine-to-machine communications). The field is split between consumer-focused products on one hand and large-scale industrial applications on the other. While the estimates about market sizes and impact differ dramatically, everyone agrees that it’s huge, and growing fast. No matter which industry your company is in, this is not a topic to be ignored.

Numbers/impact

The exact estimates on the size of the market differ dramatically depending on who does the estimation and on how the market is defined. The one thing all parties agree on is that the market volume and impact are huge, fast growing and we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg yet.

 

Some of the ball park figures often quoted in the industry and their sources:

  • USD 14.4 trillion value created between 2013 and 2022 (Cisco)
  • From 2 billion connected objects in 2006 to 200 billion by 2020 (Intel)
  • IoT market USD 7.1 trillion by 2020 (IDC)
  • More than 50 billion connected devices by 2020 (Ericsson)
  • “it will dwarf any other market” (Freescale & ARM)
  • “potential economic impact of the Internet of Things to be $2.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion per year by 2025″ (McKinsey)

What does this mean for society & industries?

For the industries involved – which might very well be almost all industries to some degree – the growing role of the IoT means

  • large potential for innovation
  • access to new data-driven business models as new services can be built around user data and responsive devices
  • the software side of hardware and consumer devices becomes more relevant as hardware and software merge into new services and products

 

For the society at large, a utopian view of the IoT would assume…

  • a more responsive environment;
  • empowering technologies like connected systems and tools to allow seniors to live autonomously longer;
  • increasingly computer/robot driven economic growth;

 

A more dystopian view would instead assume…

  • large-scale security issues due to increasingly networked devices without sufficient emphasis on security and safety;
  • a control (rather than empowering) infrastructure controlled by large conglomerates or governments that fosters compliance and consumption over citizen participation;
  • ubiquitous surveillance through connected devices that spy on their users;

 

In other words, privacy and participation become a salient design and product issue.

Which industries are expected to be most strongly affected?

The IoT and its implications on the availability of data from ubiquitous sensors have impact across most industries. Most directly impacted:

  • design and product development companies since new categories of products become possible;
  • manufacturing and logistics companies (from automotive and aerospace to cargo transport firms) as sensors allow for real-time tracking and predictive maintenance of factories, production lines and logistics networks;
  • consumer electronics companies as the internet and connectedness becomes a default for consumer devices;

Risks & opportunities

Risks:

  • privacy and security implications are key concerns in connected, data-intense services and products;
  • standards wars and incompatibility between proprietary solutions;
  • data ownership can be tricky;

 

Opportunities:

  • new business models and product categories;
  • products and services aren’t “done” when they’re shipped, as the connection and customer relationship stays relevant over time (software updates, etc.)
  • potential cost savings in industrial settings thanks to real-time information (predictive maintenance, real-time tracking, etc.)

Resources, key players, links

The big players are Cisco, Bosch, Intel, IBM. There is an unusually wide range of other large corporates, SMEs, startups and independent players. Really, the IoT is one of the few fields in which everyone dabbles.

A note

With ThingsCon, I co-founded a conference that focuses heavily on IoT and the new hardware industry. The next ThingsCon will take place in May 2015.

 

To learn more, read what this series is all about and see all articles of Tectonic Shifts.

28 Jul

By

Photos of our #paperwear workshop at London’s V&A

July 28, 2014 | By |

On Friday, the Connected team – Alex, Ana and I – were invited to run a workshop at London’s prestigious V&A museum as part of their Friday Late series. Needless to say I was thrilled – but more importantly, we’re all super happy with the results and feedback.

 

 

Being at a place as prestigious and as lovely as the V&A is fun in and of itself – but engaging there in an interactive workshop – and a discussion – about the future of technology and our relationship with wearable tech in particular is a whole different level. (More over on the Connected site.)

We have two sets of photos – a professional one as well as my own snapshops – and here are some impressions:

 

Poster for our workshop.

The reason we were at the V&A.

Setting up the workshop.

The calm before the storm.

 

Click here to see all the photos. Read More

09 Jul

By

Hardware.co Demo Day 2014

July 9, 2014 | By |

 

Christoph Fahle kicking off hardware.co demo day.

 

Pitch #1: Feel The Beat, a wearable metronome for learning to play music.

This is what the current Feel The Beat prototype looks like:

 

Pitch #2: BeaconInside, a solar-powered indoor Bluetooth Low Energy beacon for indoor location based services.

 

Pitch #3: Get Track ID, low cost music identification hardware for clubs.

 

Pitch #4: EasyCharge, a simple to install, ceiling mounted charging point for electric vehicles.

 

Pitch #5: Wotch, a strap to add smart watch functionality to your traditional watch.

 

Pitch #6: Scoutee, a device to measure the speed of your baseball pitch.

 

Pitch #7: The Basslet is a wristband that lets you feel the bass of music.

 

Pitch #8: Prepaid Power, open source, decentralized electricity supply.

 

Pitch #9: Superclock, a connected clock that displays when your subway will leave the station.

 

Pitch #10: Coolar, an add-on to fridges that turns heat into cold through evaporation and Silica gel to save energy

 

A complete list of all the teams:

 

03 Jul

By

The most interesting indie R&D shops

July 3, 2014 | By |

Indie R&D Shops

 

For future reference, a short list of some of the more interesting independent companies, studios, design and dev shops that are engaged in invention, prototyping or research & development.

Some work mostly in software, some more with hardware or interfaces. Some more conceptual, some more product-oriented, some squarely in between.

  • Hubbub invent and build playful digital products. Berlin/Utrecht.
  • überproduct. Protyping and external R&D, in code or on paper. Berlin.
  • The Incredible Machine. Focus on connected devices/IoT. Rotterdam.
  • Near Future Lab. Thinking, making, design, development and research practice. (Several locations across California & Europe)
  • Relative Wave. Focus on software and visual stuff. San Francisco.
  • BERG London. Just included for historical reasons as they are not taking on client work after transitioning their business to build BERGCloud.
  • MCQN is all about the IoT. They build connected devices, for clients and themselves. Liverpool.
  • HardwareLabs.io turns hardware prototypes into finished products. London.

If you are aware of others that should be part of this list, please let me know.

 

Full disclosure: Many friends on this list. Alper of Hubbub and I share an office at the time of writing this. Hubbub, überproduct, The Incredible Machine and BERG London all have been involved as speakers at conferences of mine.